Monday, August 25

Tribe Keeps Winning

Has the Fausto of 2007 returned? Well, a reasonable facsimile of him showed up Friday night to pitch to the Texas Rangers. Yes, the Texas Rangers who as a team have scored more than 30 runs than the next closest team in the majors. So how did Fausto fare? How does six innings, six hits, five strikeouts, and one unearned run suit you? And this is at that thing they call a ballpark in Arlington. Of course, pitching with a few runs as a cushion might not have hurt Carmona’s confidence. The Indians jumped all over Texas starter Matt Harrison early to the tune of five runs in the first two innings, my favorite hit being a triple by Andy Marte which he hit off the wall in right that took a bad carom and Marlon Byrd misplayed. The real show for this hit was Sal Fasano needing to unhitch the wagon and scoring from first. However, after the first two innings the Tribe bats went silent. Following Fausto’s six, the ball was handed over to the capable hands of Perez to pitch the next two innings. However, holding a lead against the Rangers is easier said than done, and Byrd redeemed his play on Marte’s triple by taking a pitch from Perez over the wall in left with two on and no one out in the eighth. Those two baserunners had been allowed free passes by Perez to start the inning. At the end of the eighth the score stood at 5-4 Indians. To help Jensen Lewis out, the Indians decided to hit again and scored two runs for insurance. Lewis came in for the save and while he surrendered a run on a solo homerun to some guy with the last name Boggs, he did nail down his fifth save, which included striking out Josh Hamilton with a man on. Tribe win 7-5.

Like I told Andy yesterday, it would appear anyone can score six runs in an inning in Arlington, despite it not being the ballpark's fault. The first to do it Saturday night was the Rangers in the fourth. This put an early end to Sowers' start and he left after 3.2 and was credited with seven earned. OK, so Tribe down 1-7, no problem. The starter McCarthy was excused after the fourth and Texas had Josh Rupe on the mound. Now it was the Indians' turn to score six, with the highlight being a Shoppach three-run homerun off Texas reliever Madrigal, whose first pitch was sent over the wall in left by Kelly. With the game tied in the eighth, Shoppach started a rally that resulted in the deciding run. After an infield single and thanks to a passed ball Kelly found himself on second base and then the bench with Gutierrez replacing him at a pinch-runner. Jamey Carroll, pinch-hitting for Marte, then singled to right field and Gutierrez touched home for the winning run off the pitcher of record Jamey Wright. Perez gets the win, and Lewis who after starting 3-0 to his first batter ended up striking out the side, collected save number six. Tribe win 8-7.

Sunday's game didn't start until 8:10 PM, which I can only imagine was done to try to escape the mid-day Texas heat. Anthony Reyes started for the Tribe and he continued his efforts to show that he will be an important part of this rotation next season. Reyes pitched seven innings giving up four hits and allowing a run. This was Reyes' longest outing by far with the Tribe. Previously he had been held to a 80-90 pitch count to, as Wedge said, "allow him to finish the season strong." However Sunday they left Reyes out there for 107 pitches and he did not disappoint. With a game against Detroit today I guess it was decided that the bullpen needed some help making it through this game and with Reyes doing his job out there, why not just let him pitch. Anyway, following Reyes was Rincon who gave up three hits and walked one in 0.2 innings. Betancourt replaced Rincon and promptly walked the first batter to tie the game. The Indians bats were however ready to bail out Betancourt. Ryan Garko, who has really turned it on this month, singled and was pinch-run for by Andy Gonzalez. Shoppach's sac bunt moved Andy to second and a Gutierrez single up the middle scored the go-ahead run. Betancourt returns for the ninth and the save and dispatches the Rangers for the win. Tribe win 4-3.

All three of these games were close and all resulted in wins for the Tribe. The offense has done a magnificent job keeping the Indians in each of these games. Having Jensen Lewis in the ninth hasn't exactly hurt either. The Indians' brass continue to point to a closer as being the most important acquisition of the offseason. I suspect what they really mean is "bullpen help, that can close if asked to do so." The Tribe aren't the kind of team who is going to go out and sign a pure big-time closer - they just don't like spending a lot of money. More than likely, expect to see a guy who can pitch the eight or ninth, in case this Lewis thing doesn't exactly work out. However, having said that, Lewis has been able to do over the last three weeks what no one else on this team has done, which is close consistently. That's not to say that eventually Lewis won't get burned, but how he reacts to that will also be important.

In other Indians news, Ryan Garko since the August has hit .321 with a team high 18 RBI.

I mostly take a game-by-game view of the Indians on this blog, not getting too much into players situations and future outlooks. One reason is because if I started looking at who might contribute next year what the hell will I be writing about while you guys are poring over the Browns and Cavs? A lot of other Indians writers, having lost interest in the day to day happenings of the Tribe, obviously find solace in the these musings of the future and I can't blame them really. On that note Terry Pluto this week touched on Reyes possibly being a decent replacement for Byrd and either him or Jackson being needed in the rotation until Westbrook's return. I may be misquoting him here but Reyes looks right now to be the Indians number three starter, not just a fill-in for the injured Westbrook. Jackson still doesn't look ready for the majors and hopefully Laffey has worked out his troubles in AAA.

The Indians are also looking at a log-jam (Log Jamming) at AAA and I'm not talking about the old guys like Graffanino, Weaver, or Ensberg. I'm talking about Hafner, Martinez, and Barfield. Until the rosters expand next month the Indians might have to make a decision.

One final series note. The Rangers have now dropped 14 of their last 17. Enough with all of that, now onto the Detroit series.

Game 1: Zach Jackson, LHP (0-0, 5.17) vs. Armando Galarraga, RHP (12-4, 3.17)
Game 2: Cliff Lee, LHP (18-2, 2.43) vs. Chris Lambert, RHP (0-0, -.--)
Game 3: Fausto Carmona, RHP (6-5, 4.40) vs. Justin Verlander, RHP (10-13, 4.42)

Galarraga is one of the good stories out of Detroit this season, if you're a Tigers fan anyway. Oh and if you didn't know he was traded from. . . the Rangers last offseason. So yes count him as another Texas pitcher traded away, but believe me when I say the Rangers didn't get a Hamilton-like player for him. His matchup against Jackson is the obvious weak point in this series for the Indians. Lee's opponent Lambert makes his major league debut taking over Robertson's spot in the Tigers rotation. The line of Lambert is: He owns a 12-8 record and 3.50 ERA in 26 starts for the Mud Hens, including three complete games and a shutout. He ranks fifth in the International League in ERA.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)


Andy said...

Nice to see some close ones going the Tribe's way here. Considering their substantial positive run differential and sub-.500 record, we were due to pull a few out. They just happen to all be in a row right now.

Reyes really looks like he knows what he's doing out there on the mound.

Garko's OPS over that stretch is .830, which is not great but acceptable (he was an awful .675 up until then).

Galarraga has already beaten us three times this year. The Tribe seem to always fare badly against guys making their MLB debuts. We typically beat Verlander. Let's get 10 straight.

JHH said...

I imagine there is a better split start date for Garko than the beginning of August.

His last 14 days OPS is .952

Specifically after the benching he has really picked it up.